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OEA – Teacher wage gap report highlights teacher shortage cause

[August 16, 2022] As the new school year gets underway with school districts struggling to fill teacher vacancies, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) examining the “teacher wage penalty” data is shining the spotlight on one of the root issues behind Ohio’s growing educator recruitment and retention crisis: Ohio teachers are paid 14.4% less than people with similar levels of education and experience in our state.

“Ohio must do more to make teaching an attractive profession, and that starts with paying educators fairly as the skilled professionals they are,” said Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro. “Between the fact that you can get paid a lot more money working in another career field and the constant attacks from extremist politicians who are ignoring the will of the overwhelming majority of Ohio parents who trust their children’s teachers to do the jobs they were trained to do, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing far fewer Ohioans entering the profession than even a few years ago and we’re struggling to keep many highly qualified, experienced teachers in this career. Something has to give.”

According to the EPI report, average weekly wages of public school teachers in the United States, adjusted for inflation, increased just $29 from 1996 to 2021, while inflation-adjusted weekly wages for other college graduates rose $445 over that same period. And, even when things like health insurance and retirement plans are accounted for, the benefits advantage for teachers has not been enough to offset the growing wage penalty, which was a record-high 23.5% nationally last year.

“This report should set off huge alarm bells for policy makers at every level. We are at a tipping point,” DiMauro said. “Without significant action right now to address the pay disparities for teachers and the other major issues contributing to staffing shortages, our schools are not going to be able to maintain the workforce levels needed to deliver the world-class education every student deserves. Ohio’s families need our lawmakers to step up and invest in our public schools.”

“Ohio must make a long-term commitment to fully and fairly funding our schools and paying our educators what they deserve,” DiMauro added. “OEA calls on every Ohio lawmaker to take this EPI report to heart.”

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